I'm trying to fix an issue on a (somewhat cheap) newer bike and it's giving me a bit of a run around. The issue is that when shifting up and down, the alignment is off. Normally, I could easily fix this by changing the tension of the cable, checking my limiter screws, making sure nothing is bent or out of alignment- but it's not quite worked in this case because the issue appears to be in two directions at once. Simply put, after getting the tension as close as I can– the gear is hesitant to switch from the 3rd to 4th gear when going down, but it's ALSO hesitant to shift from 4th to 3rd while going up.

I got suspicious that the tension itself might not be the problem, so I made a small mark on the cable right near the housing, and checked it going up and down again. Sure enough, in one direction the mark is about 2mm (1/16"ish) when shifting one way on 4th gear, but it's nearly covered going the other on 4th gear again.

Would this be an issue up inside the gear shifter itself then? The cord itself isn't frayed or seeming to rub inside the housing.

  • 3
    Is the derailleur hanger straight?
    – Paul H
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 20:31
  • 1
    If you pull on the exposed section of inner cable with a hand, does the perceived resistance increase as you move up from the mech to the handlebars? Does the mechanism itself move smoothly if you push it by hand ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


This is normally a divide and conquer problem, although on a cheap bike, it could be the sum of a number of small problems - if the latter, be prepared to have your patience tested.

First instinct is to suspect the cable, but it could be elsewhere. That said, first place I would look is the derailleur hanger and see if it looks straight. If obviously bent, deal with that. If not obviously bent, then move on to cable (but not completely excluding hanger).

Next look at the cable. Look for obvious pinched outer and tight radius turns - anything that would stop a new cable sliding easily. If this was an old bike, I would suggest lubing the cable at this point. Given its a cheap bike, lube is perhaps worth a try.

If still not obvious problems I would check the hanger alignment with a tool (I left this last as I presume you do not have the tool, and it requires removing the derailleur.

Last step is probably to replace the cable. I would suggest both inner and outer as if the cable is at fault, it is likely the outer has something like crunched up liner.

If still no obvious cause, remove the wheel. Check derailleur spring tension first (Hard to explain how much it should be - enough to firmly pull the cable). Check the feel of the cable sliding though the outer as you move the derailleur.

Shifter is unlikely to be cause of the problem. They tend to work or not, but really cheap ones can have problems. While I could check a shifter with reasonable confidence myself, I have no real idea how to describe what would look for.

  • Thanks, that looks to have fixed it. I didn't think the tangle of cords at the front looked too tight/sharp anywhere, but I just rearranged them to make sure that it wasn't an issue, and lubed up the cable all along the entirety (especially inside the housing), and it's shifting significantly better- along with requiring less crank on the shifter
    – Girro Affe
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 17:31

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